The Diamonds shrugged off a week dominated by the Super Netball salary dispute to beat New Zealand by 10 points and take a 1-0 lead in the Constellation Cup.
- Diamonds take 1-0 series lead against New Zealand with 50-40 victory
- Brief power outages plunged the field into darkness with seven minutes left in the third quarter.
- The second match of the series will take place on Sunday at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
A goal blitz early in the second quarter put Australia on track and they held off a young Silver Ferns side to claim a 50-40 victory in Melbourne.
Even brief power outages, with the field twice left in darkness with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, could not stop the Diamonds’ slick passing.
The victory came after the world champions’ preparation for the series opener was overshadowed by failed Players’ Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations between Super Netball players and Netball Australia (NA).
This spilled over on Monday evening via training statements from the Australian Netball Players Association and NA.
The Diamonds got to work Thursday night.
Courtney Bruce was player of the match after starting as goalkeeper and outplaying young Silver Ferns goalkeeper Amelia Walmsley (21/25) before moving to goal defense.
Melbourne Vixens center Kate Moloney came on late in the first quarter after Paige Hadley suffered a knee injury and provided energy that took Australia to the next level.
Kiera Austin (22/27) and Cara Koenen (27/31) formed a skillful duo in Stacey Marinkovich’s attack, while New Zealand captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio (17/20) was kept busy.
Bruce set the tone when, with Australia leading 10-8, she made a massive interception three minutes from the end of the first quarter.
Just before quarter-time, Hadley held her left knee after New Zealand center Maddy Gordon fell on top of her.
Moloney replaced Hadley, who Netball Australia said was no longer injured.
Home favorite Moloney, who was a reserve at the World Cup, picked up the pace almost immediately.
Leading 12-10 at quarter-time after a buzzer from Koenen, the Australians exploded from the break and quickly took a six-point lead.
Austin looked comfortable with Moloney feeding him the ball and continued to give the New Zealand defense headaches as the Diamonds took a nine-point lead into the main break.
New Zealand responded after halftime and managed to outscore Australia 14-11 in the third quarter to cut the deficit to six (40-34) in the third quarter.
But the Diamonds never looked seriously threatened and closed out the match professionally.
The second match of the series will take place on Sunday at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
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